A love of children is what drives Alberta Freed's enthusiasm for volunteering.
Alberta Freed's true passion is helping children.
As volunteer treasurer of Immanuel Lutheran Childhood Center for the past two years, Freed revels each time she comes to collect the tuition checks and sees the children. She says they shower her with unconditional love.
``The children all come running up and hug you or they holler, `Hi Bert,''' Freed said. ``A lot of them call me Bert. It makes you feel good that they're all so happy to see you. They're real outgoing kids.''
In addition to managing the center's finances, Freed assists the staff as a substitute teacher. She reads stories to the children, eats with them and gives them attention. Freed also helps the center with fund raising and special events, such as the Christmas dinner.
She views her volunteer work as a labor of love. The center, which opened five years ago, provides for 32 children, all of whom are 18 months to 6 years old.
"I have five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, so I have always liked children and worked with them through the years," Freed said. "It's very interesting to see how they have grown particularly with Carol (Beizer) as the director. She's done such a good job."
Freed arrived last Monday morning at the center to pick up some checks for deposit. She paused first to see the children. Four kids were quietly eating breakfast cereal, while a group af 20 children gathered in a separate room for fun and games.
Freed watched the children play with joy and wonder.
"We all wish we had that much energy,'' she said. ``They have wonderful imaginations."
While Freed loves the children, she also has made friends with staff members.
"0f course, they're always happy to see me since I make the paychecks out," Freed said, laughing.
Beizer is quick to point out that Freed does more than just "make the paychecks out." She praised Freed for her unconditional care for the children. She's always bringing treats, such as birthday cards, gifts and food for everyone.
"Alberta is probably one of the most giving persons l've ever met in my entire life," Beizer said. "She shares with the children and staff. She's always doing something for someone. She is just the kind of role model that you'd want for anybody's children. She's an outstanding person.''
The staff is outstanding as well, Freed said.
Freed also volunteers at the Immanuel Lutheran Church.
She has been going to the church since she moved to Lawrence 50 years ago. Freed used to teach Sunday school there and currently is the social ministry chairwoman. She helps coordinate a group of church volunteers to serve at LINK (Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen) every other month.
The clients at LINK are appreciative of the services the kitchen offers. Freed said she finds satisfaction seeing them leave each time with a smile and full stomach.
"They're a very thankful group of people,'' she said. "You get to know and recognize them. You see them helping those in wheelchairs and getting their trays. They're always so happy when you have something they like.''
Freed, who spent 30 years working in the banking industry, retired two years ago as assistant vice president at Mercantile Bank. She also is a volunteer board member for Tenants to Homeowners, an organization that helps Iow-income families find affordable housing.
She has spent a lifetime giving to others. Freed was active in her church as a child in Dodge City and helped her parents with their volunteer work in the community. As a parent, she volunteered with her children's activities, including 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
"I was always busy,'' she said. "You learn how needed some things are. That's probably one of the biggest things you learn. You need to have people that can help, and will help, and willingly will help through the years.''
Freed is making a difference at the Immanuel Lutheran Childhood Center. She is comforted in coming to the center and seeing pictures adorn the walls. A special picture of Noah's Ark decorates one wall. The inscription reads, ``little miracles happen every day.''
Freed knows how true those words are by seeing the children discover something new or by watching the teachers' expressions when they see the children begin to cooperate and share.
"It's a real rewarding thing to see children learn to play with each other and get along and enjoy themselves,'' she said.
-- The Volunteer Profile is a service of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center.